Guernseyman relieved to be back in Brighton
GUERNSEYMAN Jay Veron has returned to his home in Brighton after a rescue flight provided by the British government – and a quick fundraiser to pay the fare.
Mr Veron has lived in the UK for five years and went to the Indian state of Kerala in January to undertake yoga training.
But when the pandemic lockdown struck, he found himself one of a number of British citizens stuck in the country.
He said it was only after he went public about their plight on national media that the UK government started sending out more rescue flights.
‘The embassy announced they were putting on evacuation flights from Kerala on 15 April, so I had to get on that flight,’ he said.
A British Airways Boeing 777 was chartered for the trip and all those who wanted a place had to go onto a website and pay a fare up front – £630.
Mr Veron said German citizens he knew were charged less than £500 by their country and were given six months in which to pay it back.
Fortunately, Mr Veron’s sister Claire came to the rescue and set up a fundraising campaign which managed to quickly come up with the fare.
After paying he had to wait to get word of the trip, getting a phone call at 8pm one evening to tell him that the plane would be leaving at 1pm the next day.
Because of the lockdown, Mr Veron was taken to the local airport by Indian police, and once there he was told by British embassy officials that they could not accompany him into the terminal, which was officially closed.
‘When we got to the airport we had to go through an interrogation with the police and have medical checks,’ he said.
Even at that stage, he could still have been refused boarding permission by Indian officials.
Once on board near the back of the aircraft, it flew to three more locations to pick up other Brits before heading to Heathrow.
He said that with everyone wearing masks, it was a surreal experience: ‘Some people looked really relieved, but others looked panic stricken.’
‘It was a 16-hour flight’, said Mr Veron. ‘The BA crew were all volunteers and they were serving us sandwiches and teas and coffees throughout the flight.’
Back in the UK there was no transport provided, but Mr Veron managed to arrange for a private car to pick him up to drive him back to Brighton since he did not want to risk public transport.
Now safely back in Brighton he said he was very relieved, although he is now in isolation for two weeks: ‘But it’s good to be back in my own bed,’ he said.
He has friends supporting him by bringing supplies. His next goal is to pay a visit to Guernsey: ‘I’m hoping to get back later in the summer to see my family,’ he said.